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Bush administration threatens liberal church for being anti-war

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Yes, the Bush IRS is threatening a "liberal" church because of reports of an alleged sermon quoted in a a newspaper article. A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE. Yes, this is the IRS' basis for threatening a church with loss of its tax status - basically, threatening to destroy that church - because the IRS read an article in the paper.

Not that the Bush administration hates all religions. Conservative Bapstists and far-right fundamentalist Christians taking opinions on politics, that's okay. But you gotta remember, they voted for Bush so that gives them more of a right to the Constitution.

And, lest you be one of those silly students of history, there is nothing similar at all between the Nazi's tactic of progressive silencing critics by coercive and un-democratic uses of the law and government organs and the Bush administration's growing use of the federal government and a willing Congress to silence its critics. Really. No comparison at all.

Remember what the self-appointed owners of Hitler's history tell us, the Hitler regime and its brilliantly evil tactics for slowly and progressively silencing dissent were unique in history and could never happen again, so don't even give a moment's thought to whether any government anywhere is starting down the path to totalitarianism. It can't happen, won't happen, so forget about it.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

The letter went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article."

The IRS cited The Times story's description of the sermon as a "searing indictment of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq" and noted that the sermon described "tax cuts as inimical to the values of Jesus."

As Bacon spoke, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a co-celebrant of Sunday's Requiem Eucharist, looked on.

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